Damp and Mould
The regulator of social housing has written to me, and all other Chief Executives of housing associations, to ask for assurance that we are making sure our customers’ homes are safe and well maintained.
This follows the very sad case of Awaab Ishak, a little boy who died of a respiratory condition caused by severe damp and mould in his home in Rochdale. You may have seen it in the news.
I wanted to share with you what I will say to the Regulator about how we maintain our homes at Advance and to reassure you about our commitment to your wellbeing and quality of life as a tenant and shared owners in one of our properties.
We want to provide the very best housing that we can to our customers. As a registered provider, we have to maintain our homes to at least the Decent Homes Standard.
This means we must make sure things like windows, kitchens, bathrooms and boilers meet certain, set standards and replace them when they no longer meet those standards.
We do this by carrying out regular maintenance to keep homes up to scratch as well as sending out contractors to fix things when you tell us they’ve broken. Every year, your Housing Officer carries out a check of your home and every five years one of our Surveyors undertakes a full stock condition survey to make sure it continues to be safe and in good repair.
Keeping your home free from damp and mould is part of this. We have procedures in place to make sure we look out for damp and mould when we visit your home and we will address it where we find it. If you, or anyone in your circle of support, reports damp and mould to us, we will automatically come out and survey your home. As we go into winter, there is a greater risk of damp and mould in your home. If you do see damp or mould, please let us know so that we can work to resolve it quickly.
The other thing I want to reassure you about is the way we listen and respond to our customers. Your feedback is really important to us and helps us to make sure we’re getting things right, or able to fix things when they go wrong. If you report anything wrong in your home, including damp and mould, we will listen, take it seriously and respond.
We get your feedback in lots of different ways; through complaints, by asking for your views in surveys after we carry out a repair and once a year in our tenant satisfaction survey, and through customer groups – like house meetings, the Customer Collective and the Housing Customer Partnership. I, and members of our Board, also have the privilege of coming out to speak to some of you in your homes.
This month, we have been asking groups of customers about what they think Advance should be focusing on in the next three years as we develop our next Strategic Plan.
You have told us that your home environment is very important to you. You want us to make sure your repairs are done; to help to keep your home clean and looking nice; and to continue to foster a sense of community in shared properties.
I am pleased that, as well as telling us about ways we can improve, many of you also get in touch to tell us what you think is going well.
Just last week, I was pleased to see some very positive feedback from a family member of one of our shared ownership customers after we carried out work in her property, including the treatment of damp and mould. He said:
“I thought it important to let you know how impressed we have been with the work [you] have done in Lucy's flat. Starting with … the way you spoke to Lucy, listened to what she wanted, explained what was possible and then went about organising its delivery, all your staff have been excellent. The quality of the work was high but, in some ways more importantly, the way that [your team] interacted with Lucy in a way that acknowledged her disability but didn't patronise her was much appreciated, both by Lucy and myself.”
So thank you for getting in touch with us; I hope you will continue to do so. I want you to know that we are listening to your feedback – good or bad – and using it to continuously improve your homes and our services, and to shape our plans for the future.
Chief Executive, Advance